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Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years
     

Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years

by Noam Chomsky, Laura Nader, Immanuel Wallerstein, Richard C. Lewontin, Richard Ohmann
 

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The years following 1945 witnessed a massive change in American intellectual thought and in the life of American universities. The effort to mobilize intellectual talent during the war established new links between the government and the academy. After the war, many of those who had worked with the military or the Office of Strategic Studies took jobs in the

Overview

The years following 1945 witnessed a massive change in American intellectual thought and in the life of American universities. The effort to mobilize intellectual talent during the war established new links between the government and the academy. After the war, many of those who had worked with the military or the Office of Strategic Studies took jobs in the burgeoning postwar structure of university-based military research and intelligence agencies, bringing large infusions of government money into many fields.

The essays in this text explore what happened to the university in these years and why. They show the many ways existing disciplines, such as anthropology, were affected by the Cold War ethos, and discuss the rise of new fields, such as area studies, and the changing nature of dissent and academic freedom during and since the Cold War.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wonderful series of essays examining the effects of the Cold War on various university departments and the personal lives of the contributors." —Village Voice

"Engrossing . . . The Cold War and the University adds new dimensions to the history of Cold War repression." —The Nation

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those already inclined to regard the government as deceitful, oppressive and imperialist will be further convinced by this book. To most people, however, it will appear unfortunately slanted and dated. The overt purpose of the collection is to assemble writings by American scholars on how the Cold War affected the academy, but as often as not the real agenda would seem the condemnation of almost all government action of the period. Montgomery strikes this note in his introduction, which he begins with censorship of broadcasts by Los Alamos scientists being censored in May 1946. There are plenty of interesting essays to be written about the purported topic without dragging tangential subjects in kicking and screaming: corporate power versus the UAW and CIO, racial violence in the military and genocide against the Indians-"the original sin of American culture," says Noam Chomsky. In more germane (if equally skewed) essays, R.C. Lewontin describes how research agendas of universities were shaped by communist witch hunts while Richard Ohmann writes of secret inducements in English departments to follow a Cold War blueprint. In short, the scholarship is embarrassingly selective, and designed not to inform but to indict. (Feb.)
The Nation
"Engrossing... The Cold War and the University adds new dimensions to the history of Cold War repression."
Village Voice
"A wonderful series of essays examining the effects of the Cold War on various university departmetns and the personal lives of the contributors."
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of original essays on the troubling impact of government policies and the Cold War on the American university.

In 1945, as Chomsky, MIT linguist and left-wing political gadfly, points out, "the United States had a level of preponderance in the international sphere which probably had no counterpart in history," largely due to the country's transformation during WW II. The war had also reshaped the once distant relationship between the federal government and the university into a close partnership, and the nation's developing rivalry with its erstwhile Soviet ally gave the academy (and especially its scientists) a new importance in American life. Noted Harvard biologist Lewontin portrays the relationship as a Faustian bargain in which the university, and scholars in strategic disciplines like applied sciences and political studies, derived new wealth, power, and prestige from government largesse. But the ultimate result of government money, he suggests, was the vitiation of the moral independence of the academy. He further asserts that this close relationship persists, now heavily rationalized by institutions grown used to wealth and influence. Other writers discuss the impact of Cold War culture on their own disciplines: Historian Howard Zinn argues that the public conflict between repression and resistance in the 1950s and '60s mirrors the conflict between scholarly commitment to the truth and pressures to write history along the lines of official propaganda. Richard Oehman discusses the politicization of the teaching of English during the Cold War and Laura Nader the imposition of Cold War priorities on research in anthropology.

The writers generally approach their subject from an avowedly left-wing perspective, and the writing is in places obscure and jargon-laden; however, the authors do a service in exploring a topic too little examined but fraught with importance for modern American cultural life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565843974
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
02/28/1998
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Eric Hobsbawm
"Fascinating... A major additon to our knowledge -- all the better for nob being just denunciation, but also real analysis."

Meet the Author

Noam Chomsky is the Institute Professor and a professor of linguistics, emeritus, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A world-renowned linguist and political activist, he is the author of numerous books, including On Language: Chomsky’s Classic Works Language and Responsibility and Reflections on Language; Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel; American Power and the New Mandarins; For Reasons of State; Problems of Knowledge and Freedom; Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship; Towards a New Cold War: U.S. Foreign Policy from Vietnam to Reagan; The Essential Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove; and On Anarchism, and a co-author (with Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years and (with Michel Foucault) of The Chomsky-Foucault Debate, all published by The New Press. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Ira Katznelson is a professor of political science at Columbia University. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. He is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press).

R.C. Lewontin is an evolutionary biologist, a geneticist, and a social commentator. He is professor biology, emeritus, and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, emeritus, at Harvard University. He is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press).

David Montgomery (1927 – 2011) was Farnum Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University. He was one of the founders of “New Labor History” in the United States. He is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press).

Laura Nader is a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press).

Richard Ohmann is the Benjamin Waite Professor of English, Emeritus, at Wesleyan University. He is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Howard Zinn) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press).

Immanuel Wallerstein is a senior research scholar in the department of sociology at Yale University and director emeritus of the Fernand Braudel Center at Binghamton University. He is also a resident researcher at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris. His many books include The Modern World-System and Historical Capitalism. The New Press has published After Liberalism, The Decline of American Power, and a collection of his works, The Essential Wallerstein. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and Paris, France.

Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, a playwright, and an activist. He wrote the classic A People’s History of the United States and is a co-author (with Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, and Immanuel Wallerstein) of The Cold War and the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (The New Press). He received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Eugene V. Debs Award for his writing and political activism.

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